Investigation: 2.5 Second Security Mistake Costed PM Abe Life
Bodyguards could have saved former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe if they shielded him or removed him from the line of fire in the 2.5 seconds between a missed first shot and a second round of gunfire that fatally wounded him, according to eight security experts who reviewed footage of the former Japanese leader’s assassination.
The failure to protect Abe from the second shot followed what appeared to be a series of security lapses in the lead-up to the assassination of Japan’s longest-serving prime minister on July 8, the Japanese and international specialists who conducted independent investigation said.
Mr. Abe’s killing in the western city of Nara by a man using a homemade weapon shocked a nation where gun violence is rare and politicians campaign up close to the public with light security.
The group of specialists include the security experts from U.S., Europe, New Zealand and Australia.
After leaving 67-year-old Abe exposed from behind as he spoke on a traffic island on a public road, his security detail allowed the shooter – identified by police as Tetsuya Yamagami, 41 – to come within metres of Abe unchecked, carrying a weapon, the footage showed.
Bodyguards missed an attacker
They should have seen the attacker very deliberately walking towards the rear of the prime minister and intervened,” said Mr. Kenneth Bombace, head of Global Threat Solutions, which provided security to Joe Biden when he was a presidential candidate.
Mr. Yamagami came within around 7 metres that is 23 feet) of Abe before firing his first shot, which missed, the Yomiuri newspaper said, citing investigative sources. He fired the second shot, which hit, at around 5 metres away, it said.
A lack of security concentric rings
Mr. Abe’s bodyguards did not appear to have “concentric rings of security” around him, said Mr. John Soltys, a former Navy SEAL and CIA officer now a vice president at security firm Prosegur. “They didn’t have any kind of surveillance in the crowd.”
Asked about the experts’ analysis, the Nara Prefectural Police, in charge of security for Mr. Abe’s campaign stop, said in a statement the department was “committed to thoroughly identifying the security problems” with Mr. Abe’s protection, declining to comment further.
Japanese authorities – including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida – have acknowledged security lapses, and police say they are investigating.